Altar Glen Mass

Cranlome School

Midnight Mass



A local patient, very seriously ill in St. John's Nursing Home, Belfast,
dictated the following poem, descriptive of a Midnight Mass said or sung
in the Glen the Christmas after Emancipation in 1829. The poetry is
not of a very high quality, but old people said that it gives a good picture
of the Glen when it was used for Mass before all the trees were cut down :

Midnight Mass in that hallowed glen ;
An altar stood nigh that uneasy brook,
Like a fairy palace with candles gleaming
Through terraced rows of oak and beech,
The berried holly a background making,
By nature sprayed with Yuletide snow ;
Like bridal curls from expanding branches
In wavelets fell the mistletoe.

The skies seemed rested on majestic maples
That rose like pillars in St. Peter's, Rome ;
And isled the valley, a transept making,
And twinkling stars light the leafy dome.
Kneeling peasants on the verdant carpet
Swayed in prayer and their faces shone
Like shepherds watching their Saviour's coming
With eyes of faith on the altar stone.

The " Adoro Te " nights’ stillness wakened
In rolling cadence through that lone dell ;
And phantom figures outlined in darkness
Bowed in prayer at the Sanctus bell.
With Chrismed hands the Host uplifted,
The Babe of old was stabled there ;
And from bank and brook in rustic setting,
Guardian angels joined men in prayer.

The night is past, the clouds are lifted ;
Deserted now is that sacred shed,
The trees are felled and the thrush is missing.
Our faithful fathers all are dead;
But we their children still revere it,
The glen of the green and trampled sod,
That served of yore as Church and Altar,
For Mass and praises raised to God.